After nearly two years, a popular outdoor venue in Le Roy has been cleared to host concerts again.
Nestled deep within the farmlands and orchards of Western New York, Frost Ridge Campground lends to an intimate, outdoor venue for live music while also being accessible to the cities of Buffalo and Rochester, each about 40 miles away.
The Le Roy Zoning Board of Appeals reached a decision Wednesday, Feb. 17, that will end years of disputes over the Frost Ridge Campground’s use of hosting outdoor concerts with amplified music.
“We appreciate the diligent efforts of everyone involved to work through the obstacles presented during this process,” David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell, the campground’s owners, posted on their Facebook page last week, “and [we] are thankful to have this resolved so our lives may return to normal. Frost Ridge will continue to operate within the boundaries of the law, while bringing fun for the whole family to Our Little Slice Of Heaven at Exit 47.”
This week, the Luetticke-Archbells are entertaining a shortlist of potential acts: Charlie Daniels Band, Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
The drama has been earnestly reported by The Batavian, an online news source for the local community. Through its investigation, the crux of the matter seems to lie on how the land was being used in 1967.
Ownership of the grounds has changed hands a few times over the years. David and Greg Luetticke-Archbell bought the grounds in 2008. At the time, there was no confusion over how the land could be used; as the land was being sold nearly 20 years ago, its owner asked the zoning board to clarify how it was zoned. The ZBA supposedly responded in 1998 that the land was “pre-existing, non-conforming,” as the campground and existing land uses were established before the town devised its master plan in 1967.
Starting in 2012, the Luetticke-Archbell have been throwing a robust summer music festival called Jam at the Ridge, luring music talents from across the country. According to the campground’s website, music has been played there since the days when it was known primarily as a ski lodge. The campgrounds, according to the two brothers, were established in 1963.
In 2013, the ZBA had approved live music at the grounds, addressing complaints from local residents. The complaints, however, escalated through the threat of litigation. The town subsequently challenged its own ZBA’s ruling.
The town, citing from their records, see only the ski lodge as being grandfathered into their zoning plans. Everything else, after 1967, would require a use variance, which would go through the ZBA.
In summer 2014, the grounds’ owners were ultimately ordered to cease outdoor music by a New York State Supreme Court judge as both town and residents pursued litigation. More than a year later, the Daily News out of Batavia reported that another supreme court judge ordered the ZBA to host a public hearing on the topic.
At the December 2015 public hearing, Town Attorney Reid Whiting said the town would not challenge the ZBA’s decision.
The board’s decision appears to hinge on the campground owners’ argument that any issue residents have with outdoor concerts should be addressed through the town’s sound ordinance, and not land use. David Roach, the grounds’ attorney, argued this point in the December public hearing.
Western New York is no stranger to disputes over sound ordinance. In neighboring Newstead, residents successfully shut down an outdoor venue in 2014 by means of the town’s sound ordinance.